新板 窮理図解

What do you expect of your current students?
      I joined Keio University in 2010. Fortunately, I was able to set up my own lab soon thanks to enthusiastic support of Department of Chemistry professors who voiced, “Keio needs to introduce a new field of research.”
      With alumni of many graduates who are active at the forefront of society, I feel Keio University is a driving force of Japan, so to speak. On one hand, it is wonderful. On the other hand, I’d advise our students to not become too dependent on the Keio brand and its extensive human network. I’d like my students to develop and exhibit their own individual colors. I’d also like to see Keio demonstrate its advantages as a private educational institution not easily affected by national policies.
      Another point I’d like to make is we should stop distinguishing the fields of learning into chemistry, physics, biology, etc., or worrying much about distinguishing between basics and application. I say this because I think this kind of idea may eventually hamper the understanding of sciences, given learning originally has no demarcations.
      Universities are where you should think about your future paths, not a mere waypoint to find employment with big businesses. Prof. Morishima once taught me the phrase “noblesse oblige.” This means the noble have their obligations to perform for society. Our students are privileged to enjoy such an enviable environment as Keio. Therefore, they should think more seriously about what they should do to contribute to society, and live their lives with pride.

How do you refresh yourself when you have time to spare from research?
      I like languages and letters/characters of the world, so I often take my family to exhibitions and events that interest me. The catalyst for my liking were the ancient Tangut characters that I knew in the novel “Dunhuang” authored by Yasushi Inoue that I read when I was a junior (or senior ?) high school student. As introduced in the novel, Tangut characters appear to be Chinese characters but they are actually not. Then what are these characters really like? I remember I was obsessed by this question. Since the Internet was not in use in those days, I visited libraries and bookstores here and there trying to find out what the ancient characters really are. I still remember I was struck with a strange feeling beyond description when I first saw Tangut characters. With this experience as a start, I came to know there are many different characters around the world. Indeed, simply looking at little known foreign characters soothes me.
photo      Becoming so dissatisfied with merely looking at books, I wanted to see such characters firsthand, which drove me to travel abroad. In fact, I visited numerous foreign destinations just to look for ancient characters – such as Egypt (for hieroglyph), Iran (cuneiform characters), Mexico (Mayan script), among others. In China, I visited as far as the city of Kashgar (Xinjian-Uygur Autonomous Region), where the Uighur language is written using Chinese characters. I enjoyed looking at a flood of seemingly Chinese characters that I totally couldn’t understand. It was a truly stimulating experience. By nature, I like traveling. This is mainly because my parents would often take me overseas from the time when I was a child. Maybe because of this background, I still like to travel overseas with persons with whom I can share joy and distress – to see intriguing characters of the world. In fact, I visited various overseas destinations, sometimes involving my wife even before our marriage.
      As for daily breathers, the best is playing with my daughters, an elementary school girl and a kindergarten student. Simply looking at them is really fun!

Some words from students
Student : Dr. Furukawa came to Keio in 2010. It just happened to be when I entered Keio. Eager to challenge a research theme dealing with substances like proteins with large molecular weight, I jumped at the Furukawa lab engaged in research in metalloproteins. I’m now in the first year of the doctoral course. Dr. Furukawa puts faith in me and allows me to carry out research as freely as I like, which is encouraging as well as comfortable.

(Reporter & text writer: Akiko Ikeda)